In a thrilling Division 4 North final Friday night at Emmanuel College, top-seeded St. Clement came out with a 62-57 victory over third-seeded St. Mary’s, setting up a state semifinal meeting with South champion Bishop Connolly on Monday at TD Garden.
Junior center Eamonn Joyce took over in the fourth quarter, scoring the first 6 points of the frame and pushing the Anchormen (22-1) to a 50-46 lead they would not relinquish.
Asserting his 6-foot-8-inch presence in the paint, Joyce finished with a game-high 25 points and 14 rebounds.
“We felt that he could score on the baseline,” St. Clement coach Leo Boucher said of his center. “That’s where he got a lot of his looks. That’s his game . . . he played his role.”
After getting off to a sluggish start by his standards, Anchormen senior forward Khaneil Bruce played the closer role in the fourth.
The Catholic Central League Co-MVP tallied 8 points and forced two key turnovers down the stretch. Khaneil finished with 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 steals.
“Coach just told me to keep my head in,” Bruce said of his mind-set heading into the final frame. “I came out in the fourth quarter, tried to play my best, and that’s what happened. Everybody just came together and we got the W.”
St. Mary’s led, 46-44, heading into the fourth, but failed to execute offensively in key moments down the stretch. The Spartans were led by the backcourt duo of sophomore guard Anthony Silfa and junior point guard Dennis Bailer.
Bailer had no trouble finding his stroke and penetrating the lane all night, as the 5-8 guard poured in a team-high 23 points, including five 3-pointers, along with 4 assists, and 2 steals.
Silfa added 15 points, 5 rebounds, and a steal, but struggled to find an offensive rhythm in the waning minutes.
With Bailer out of the game after picking up his fifth foul late in the fourth, St. Clement’s defense denied Silfa of any real looks at the basket.
“We limited [Silfa’s] looks down the stretch,” Boucher said of his team’s pressure defense, which forced three consecutive turnovers with under three minutes to go. “That was key.”
Junior guard Brandon Williams added 11 points for the Anchormen, while junior guard Mark Grant added three momentum-swinging 3-pointers.
Curtis Lockett Jr. added 10 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals for the Spartans.